Hundreds rally in Portland against occupation of Malheur Wildlif - KPTV - FOX 12

Hundreds rally in Portland against occupation of Malheur Wildlife Refuge

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Hundreds of people gathered in northeast Portland with signs saying "Stop Bundy land grab" and "Get out of our sanctuary" to rally against the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

The Portland rally at Holladay Park near the Lloyd Center was one of several throughout the state Tuesday as the armed occupation of the refuge near Burns extended into its third week.

The rally was hosted by the Audubon Society of Portland. The organization said the goal was to highlight "the positive collaborative efforts between refuge officials, ranchers, environmentalists and the Burns-Paiute Tribe that have been underway on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge," while describing the current situation as an "illegal occupation."  

The occupiers took over the rural refuge in the southeastern part of the state on Jan. 2 to protest federal land policies.

Last week group spokesman Lavoy Finicum said the FBI needed to leave town and leave them alone, saying federal agents were "acting as militia and stirring up fear" in the community. 

Harney County Sheriff David Ward, Gov. Kate Brown and community members have previously called for the group to leave the refuge, but the group has not provided any timeline to do so.

The Harney County Sheriff's Office said a community meeting was planned for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Burns High School gym, but it was not clear if members of the group occupying the refuge would be in attendance.

The Audubon Society of Portland released a statement on the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge when it began, saying, "The occupation of Malheur by armed, out of state militia groups puts one of America’s most important wildlife refuges at risk. It violates the most basic principles of the Public Trust Doctrine and holds hostage public lands and public resources to serve the very narrow political agenda of the occupiers."

Rallies were also held in Bend and Eugene on Tuesday, with others planned for the Medford-Ashland area, as well as La Grande.

The Audubon Society of Portland said, "Because of the volatile situation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, supporters are strongly discouraged from visiting Harney County at this time."

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